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NFL Scouting Combine

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NFC NORTH: What the head coaches are saying

INDIANAPOLIS - The head coach and general manager media sessions have concluded here at the Combine as the focus now turns to the prospects themselves.

Before we turn the page one the first couple days of the Combine completely, let's take a quick look back at three news items from each of the podium sessions with the four NFC North coaches:


1. Heading into his second season at the helm, Chicago head coach Matt Nagy is now at a point where he knows what he likes and what he didn't like from the offense he installed in Chicago this past season. He likes the fact that he can show players their own film of the offense and not Kansas City film. He says it will enable the offense to get better at the things they like and throw away the things they didn't like.

2. What is Nagy looking for in a new kicker after the release of Cody Parkey? The short answer is production. Kickers either make it or they don't. It's clear cut. It's Chicago's challenge now to find a guy who can come in and make the kind of kicks Parkey missed that cost them a chance at the Super Bowl.

3. The Bears don't have a ton of cap space, estimated to be currently around $15 million, but Nagy does have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of every single player on the roster than he did this time last year. He said he's in a better position to help GM Ryan Pace formulate a plan for free agency and the draft, but admits it's a bit more challenging this offseason with less resources than the team had last year.

Quotable: "It's my job, my responsibility to make sure (we don't get complacent coming off a 12-4 season)," Nagy said. "I look forward to that. I think that's one of the fun parts in my position is being able to be creative and find ways of how do you do it."

View photos from general managers and head coaches speaking to the media on Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.


1. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer talked about the importance of retaining offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who stepped in midseason and did a nice job with the Vikings' offense. Zimmer also said the addition of former head coach Gary Kubiak as an offensive advisor will really have a positive impact on quarterback Kirk Cousins and that side of the ball.

2. Zimmer is open to adding a kicking coach to his staff, which we've started to see other teams do around the league. Minnesota's problems in the kicking department have been well documented over the years. Zimmer related it to golfers having a swing coach.

3. One area where the Vikings do need to improve their talent and depth is upfront along the offensive line. Zimmer really likes this year's offensive line group in the draft. Every year there are certain position groups that are more talented and deeper than others. Zimmer feels the offensive linemen he's watched on tape and met in person makes the group stand out over previous years.

Quotable: "It's a heck of a division," Zimmer said of the NFC North. "We got great quarterbacks in there, we got really good defenses in there and great coaches. So, we're just going to get out there and tee it up and see what happens."


1. What will new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur's offense look like in Green Bay? LaFleur wants balance and to assemble the offense through the running game.

"I think it takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback, and if we can stay balanced on first and second down," he said. "I think that's an advantage for the offense."

LaFleur's offense is built on having plays that start out looking the same that are different, much like we see with Sean McVay's offense in Los Angeles.

2. LaFleur is pretty high on Green Bay's three young wide receivers from last year – Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J'Mon Moore. He raved about their size and skill set, and really likes the way they can stretch the field, which he said was an important element from that position in his scheme. Veteran Davante Adams is one of the best receivers in the game, so if these three take the next step in LaFleur's offense, Green Bay could be pretty scary on that side of the ball in 2019.

3. LaFleur is very much in favor of the running back by committee approach. The Packers look to have two pretty good ones in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. They could add to the group this offseason.

Quotable: "You guys know I'm older than I might look, right?" LaFleur said to a question about his youth (he's 39). "I'm seven years older than Sean (McVay). So, no, I just think we're going to bring a lot of energy.

"I think everything is about developing relationships. Developing relationships within the staff and with our players. So that's what we're going to try to do on a daily basis. Just have that clear, open and honest communication, and try to get everybody working for the same common goal."


1. The Detroit Lions have a number of needs to fill, and will look to their nine draft picks to fill some of those holes. Where might this draft be strong to fill some of those needs? Lions head coach Matt Patricia was asked that question. He first responded with defensive playmakers, which the Lions certainly would like to add to the roster. He also talked about the offensive skill positions at tight end and receiver, a couple needs on that side of the ball.

2. Patricia expanded on the tight end position in particular, and talked about the importance of the position as it relates to creating mismatches for the defense. The players that can do multiple things are obviously more attractive. Patricia said the Lions are certainly on the lookout to try and improve that position this offseason.

"We're looking at those guys pretty hard and trying to make sure we get somebody in there that puts as much stress on the defense as possible," he said.

3. Patricia really likes the way running back Kerryon Johnson played as a rookie. He is looking for even bigger things from Johnson in year two. He made the point, however, that it's always a big jump from year one to year two because defenses aren't going to be surprised by Johnson anymore.

Quotable: "I mean I have a lot to improve on," Patricia said of his second year at the helm. "For me, the second time around with all of this, it's good. Obviously, being in this same exact spot last year, it's kind of a whirlwind. You're drinking from the firehose there, as they say, and this time we're a little bit ahead of the game.

"It was kind of such a rush last year. We're in the same spot. That's what's great about the NFL – every part of the season, the months, they're all the same. We do the same process, you just try you get better each year."

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